100th Council session marks milestone outcomes for ACP
Brussels, 12th December 2014/ ACP: The Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group met for its 100th sitting from 9 – 12 December in Brussels, Belgium. Amongst several significant decisions taken, the Council appointed a new Secretary General to head the organisation from 2015-2020. The 100th session was an opportunity for the Council to consider two key reports recommending major reforms for the Group post-2015 and post-2020.
New Secretary General
Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes, the current Ambassador of Guyana to the European Union and Belgium was appointed as the new Secretary General of the ACP Group. He is set to begin his five-year term on 1 March 2015. Ambassador Gomes was selected from a short list of three final nominees from the Caribbean region, during a closed voting session of the Bureau of the Council of Ministers.
Budget & contributions
The Council of Ministers approved a budget of €15.4 million for the financial year 2015. This includes 51.6% from member states, 39.6% from EDF contributions, and 8.8% from taxes levied on staff. The budget represents a 0.39% increase from the previous year. The Council made an explicit appeal to Member States with outstanding contributions to regularise their situation.
Reports on the future of the ACP Group
The Council of Ministers heard presentations on the final report from the Ambassadorial Working Group on Future Perspectives (WGFP), as well as a progress report on the work of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), an external panel chaired by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Both focused on the issue of reorienting the 79-member international institution to be more effective and visible as a global player, an issue of particular importance in the context of global discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and the reflections on a new partnership framework between ACP countries and the European Union to follow the current agreement, which ends in 2020.
Both reports underlined the unique tri-continental aspect of ACP membership and the valuable expertise the organisation has accrued over several decades co-managing the European Development Fund (EDF). Stronger Intra-ACP cooperation and South-south and triangular cooperation were highlighted as important opportunities. The reports cited the need to reform the institutional architecture of the Group for optimal performance and governance; ensure financial contributions from member states and explore additional income streams; engage in an inclusive approach with the regional bodies, civil society, and private sector; and enhance strategic communications.
The Council agreed that the report of the Working Group will feed into EPG’s final document, to be presented to the next ACP Heads of States and Government Summit. The exact date and venue are yet to be confirmed.
Climate change, Small Island Developing States
The Council of Ministers endorsed recommendations made by the ACP Secretariat, based on its participation in the 3rd Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa on 1 – 3 September. This includes using funds from the 11th EDF to support concerns of SIDS such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction, ocean biodiversity and renewable energy.
The Council of Ministers also approved the ACP Secretariat’s issue paper on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima (COP 20) and mandated the Committee of Ambassadors to continue efforts to adequately prepare ACP member states for COP 21 in Paris in 2015.
The Council of Ministers approved the ACP Strategy for Private Sector Development for 2015-2019. The strategy includes four pillars of intervention: improving business climate, developing entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); increasing access to financing for MSMEs; and strengthening MSME access to national and international markets, while promoting regional integration.
Resolutions on Commodities, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
The Council of Ministers adopted resolutions on bananas, sugar and cotton.
It also adopted a resolution on the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements which stressed the need for the EU to demonstrate flexibility in negotiations, urgently address challenges faced in the implementation if interim EPAs, and provide additional financial and technical support to implement EPAs. The resolution called for a meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee as soon as possible in the first half of 2015 to address issues of concern. The Council of Ministers called on the EU to exempt ACP EPA signatories in its application of octroi de mer (dock dues).
- Appointment of Secretary General of the ACP Group
- ACP issues paper on the Lima Climate Change Conference (COP20)
- ACP Secretariat’s Budget for Financial year 2015
- Endorsement of the audited financial statements for the year ended 31st December 2013
- Status of Contributions by ACP member states
- Review of need and relevance of ACP Geneva Office
- Revised Organigram of the ACP Secretariat
- Post of Administration Analyst
- ACP Private Sector Development Strategy
- Third Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
- The future perspectives of the ACP Group
- ACP Eminent Persons Group
- Economic Partnership Agreements
For more information or media enquiries, contact ACP Press Officer Ms. Josephine Latu-Sanft, +32 2 7430617 or firstname.lastname@example.org .